Friday, March 3, 2017

Really Good Quotes About Books & Writing

I came across a good book of quotes about books, piblished in 2001,in Speaking of Books: The Best Things Ever Said About Books and Book Collecting, edited by Rob Kaplan and Harold Rabinowitz. Below are some excerpts from his book and then a sampling of the quotes featured in his book:

The Nature Of Quotes
“But there may be something more to it than that.  At times, while reading, you may have felt the presence of the author coming to you through the words.  At such times it seems the author is standing right there, and you are flushed with a sense of recognition – you believe you would know this person if the two of you ever met.

“If we are familiar with an author’s work, we imagine him or her speaking to us, and feel an intimacy with the author through the words on the paper.  It’s the sense we have of the writer that makes us seek out other works by the same author; it’s what allows writers to get away with writing the same book over and over again.  Because we felt the presence of the writer coming through in the first book, having enjoyed the writer’s company during that reading, we decide to entertain another visit from an old friend.”

“The literacy problem isn’t just that there are too many people who don’t know how to read, the problem is that there are too many people without the requisite patience to endure an entire book!”

Preserving Printed Books
“If this collection is to be also a celebration of books, and not an extended epitaph, we are going to have to offer some reason for believing that books will endure and survive the current spate of technological wonder-working on their own merits.  We will argue that books are better than these other systems and that reading a book is so unique and special an experience that readers will keep reading books and looking to books for the kind of insight and experience that only books can offer.

“The same is true in encounters with books. The entire book is before us, and we are influenced by the total package: the jacket; the cover; the endpapers (decorative or not); the quality; color, cut and texture of the paper; the size of the page; the size, font, and spacing of text and the layout of each page; the way the chapters open and the way notes and bibliographic materials are organized; whether and how illustrations are presented, and how they are captioned.  Anyone who thinks these elements don’t really matter will have no objective to their only child’s wedding being a come-as-you-are affair at a local diner.  We take the book design for granted until a poor design destroys a book.  Similarly, we take our sensual experience of books for granted

“But ultimately the pleasure each of us derives from reading is a very personal one, and one that, despite the efforts of all those who have tried to define it for us, we must all define for ourselves.”

Books Forever?
“There are others, however, who introduce a cautionary note, who warn us that we can grow too dependent on books.  They remind us that, for all the benefits we can derive from books, and although we may tend to see them as such, they are not a panacea.”

“It is impossible to overemphasize the role that libraries – particularly public libraries – have played in fostering the love of books and reading in our society.”

A Refuge
“Books and reading are presented as a refuge from the world, a safe haven where nothing and no one can intrude.”

Knowledge vs. Wisdom

“Equally – if not more – important are those who warn us not to confuse knowledge with wisdom.  While the former, they acknowledge, can be gathered from books, the latter can only be acquired as a result of our own thought processes.”

Authors & Readers
“The relationship between authors and their readers is a unique one, with the former, perhaps of necessity, more aware of this uniqueness than the latter.  In what other circumstances do individuals reveal their innermost thoughts, their deepest and darkest secrets, to complete-albeit invisible-strangers?

“Of course, authors and their readers want and expect different things from this unique relationship.

“The one thing, however, that both writers and readers seem to agree on is that there is a relationship, and that both participants have a role to play in it, for good or ill.”


“These are the human enemies of books, those who believe they are entitled to decide what we should all think, recognize that the ability to read freely inevitably leads to the ability to think freely, and accordingly would keep books of which they don’t approve out of our hands.”

Here are some of the quotes from his book that resonated with me:

“Books are the windows through which the soul looks out.  A home without books is like a room without windows.”
--Henry Ward Beecher The Sermons of Henry Ward Beecher (1870) [See Cicero, p. 7]

“Are we not driven to the conclusion that of the things which man can do or make here below, by far the most momentous, wonderful, and worthy are the things called Books?”
--Thomas Carlyle, “The Hero as a Man of Letters,” On Heroes, Hero-Worship, and the Heroic (1841)

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”   Cicero (See Henry Ward Beecher, p.5)

“All the glory of the world would be buried in oblivion, unless God had provided mortals with the remedy of books.”
--Richard de Bury, Philobiblon (1473)

“To gain glory by books you must not only possess them but know them; their lodgings must be in your brain and not on your book-shelf.”
--Francesco Petrarch, in The Great Book-Collectors by Charles and Mary Elton (1893)

“The best books for man are not always those which the wise recommend, but often those which meet the peculiar wants, the natural thirsts of his mind, and therefore awaken interest and rival thought.”
--William Ellery Channing

“Never judge a cover by its book.”
--Fran Lebowitz, Metropolitan Life (1978)

“The printing-press is either the greatest blessing or the greatest curse of modern times, one sometimes forgets which.”
--James M. Barrie, Sentimental Tommy (1896)

“Do you want to get a new ideas?  Read old books.  Do you want to find old ideas?  Read new ones.”
--Edward Bulwer-Lytton, in the Times Literary Supplement, October 18, 1906

“The pen is mightier than the sword.”
--Edward Bulwer-Lytton, Richelieu (1839)

“We become so used to having the famous books around, most of the time we look at them as though they were statues of generals in public parks.”
--George P. Elliot, Wonder for Huckleberry Finn (1958)

“The books that the world calls immoral are books that show the world its own shame.”
--Oscar Wilde, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891)

“The bibliophile is the master of his books, the bibliomaniac their slave.”
--Hanns Bohatta [See Gustave Mouravit, p. 65]

“When I get a little money, I buy books; and if any is left, I buy food and clothes.”
--Desiderius Erasmus [See John Lyly p. 64; Tom Raabe, p. 66 and Robert Southey p.66]

“I have no mistress but my books.”
--S.J. Adair Fitzgerald, “My Books,” Book-Song

“I divide all readers into two classes:  those who read to remember and those who read to forget.”
--William Lyon Phelps

“When you re-read a classic you do not see more in the book than you did before; you see more in you than there was before.”
--Clifton Fadiman, Any Number Can Play (1957) [See Ralph Waldo Emerson, p. 87; A.W. and J.C. Hare, p. 89; and Edmund Wilson, p. 96]

“The book-lover needs most to be reminded that man’s business here is to know for the sake of living, not to live for the sake of knowing.”
--Frederic Harrison, The Choice of Books and Other Literary Pieces (1886)

“Journalism allows its readers to witness history; fiction gives its readers an opportunity to live it.”
--John Hersey, in Time, March 13, 1950

“No two people read the same book.”
--Edmund Wilson, in the Sunday Times, July 25, 1971 [See Ralph Waldo Emerson, p. 87; Clifton Fadiman, p. 88, and A.W. and J.C. Hare, p.89]

“You can never be too thin, too rich, or have too many books.”
--Carter Burden, in Vogue, March 1987

“What refuge is there for the victim who is oppressed with the feeling that there are a thousand new books he ought to read, while life is only long enough for him to attempt to read a hundred?”
--Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Over the Teacups (1891)

“I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves.”
--Anna Quindlen, “Enough Bookshelves,” The New York Times, August 7, 1991

“A truly great book should be read in youth, again in maturity, and once more in old age, as a fine building should be seen by morning light, at noon, and by moonlight.”
--Robertson Davies, The Enthusiasms of Robertson Davies (1989)

“Any book that is important ought to be at once read through twice…because we are not in the same temper and disposition on both readings.”
--Arthur Schopenhauer, “On Books and Reading.”  The Art of Literature (1818)

“Some books are undeservedly forgotten; none are undeservedly remembered.”
--W.H. Auden, “Reading,” The Dyer’s Hand (1962)

“One of the misfortunes of life is that one must read thousands of books only to discover that one need not have read them.”
--Thomas deQuincey

“Books worth reading are worth re-reading.”
--Holbrook Jackson, Maxims of Books and Reading (1934)

“A classic is a book that doesn’t have to be written again.”
--Carl van Doren [See Bennett, p. 127; Calvino, p. 128; Chesterton, p. 129; Kazin, p. 133; Miller, p. 134; Pound, p. 136; and Winchester, p. 138]

“The best service a book can render you is not to impart truth, but to make you think it out for yourself.”
--Elbert Hubbard, The Note Book of Elbert Hubbard, compiled by Elbert Hubbard II (1917)

“The sole substitute for an experience which we have not ourselves lived through is art and literature.”
--Alexander Solzhenitsyn, Nobel Lecture 1972

“Literature exists to please – to lighten the burden of men’s lives; to make them for a short while forget their sorrow and their sins, their silenced hearths, their disappointed hopes, their grim futures – and those men of letters are the best loved who have best performed literature’s truest office.”
--Augustine Birrell, “The Office of Literature,” The Collected Essays and Addresses (1922)

“When we are collecting books, we are collecting happiness.”
--Vincent Starrett

“The trouble with the publishing business is that too many people who have half a mind to write a book do so. “
--William Targ, in “No Author is a Man of Genius to His Publisher” by William Rossa Cole, The New York Times Book Review, September 3, 1989

“Books may be burned and cities sacked, but truth, like the yearning for freedom, lives in the hearts of humble men.”
--Franklin D. Roosevelt, in his acceptance speech at the Democratic Party National Convention, June 17, 1936

“People say that life is the thing, but I prefer reading.”
--Logan Pearsall Smith, Afterthoughts (1931) [See Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr. p. 235, and Robert Louis Stevenson, below]

“The man who does not read good books has no advantage over the man who can’t read them.”
--Mark Twain

“Books are the cosmography of man, a world in themselves.”
--Holbrook Jackson, The Anatomy of Bibliomania (1930)

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Brian Feinblum’s views, opinions, and ideas expressed in this blog are his alone and not that of his employer. You can follow him on Twitter @theprexpert and email him at He feels more important when discussed in the third-person. This is copyrighted by BookMarketingBuzzBlog 2017©. Born and raised in Brooklyn, now resides in Westchester. Named one of the best book marketing blogs by Book Baby 

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